Archive for August 2010
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British energy giant BP forced to abandon hopes of Greenland exploration owing to tarnished reputation from Gulf oil spill
BP frozen out of Arctic oil drilling race
BP confirmed it was no longer trying to win an exploration licence in Greenland (above). Photograph: John McConnico/AP
The company confirmed tonight that it was no longer trying to win an exploration licence in Greenland, despite earlier reports of its interest. “We are not participating in the bid round,” said a spokesman at BP’s London headquarters who declined to discuss its reasons for the reverse.
The setback, which follows the announcement this week of a major find in the region by British rival Cairn Energy, is the first sign that the Gulf of Mexico disaster may have permanently damaged BP’s ability to operate — not just in US waters, but in other environmentally-sensitive parts of the world.
Today the bureau of minerals and petroleum in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, confirmed that the names of successful bidders for future exploration licences would be announced in the next couple of weeks.
The bureau refused to comment on widespread industry rumours that it had not considered BP specifically as a result of the recent Macondo well disaster in the US.
But senior sources confirmed to the Guardian that both the Greenland government and BP had agreed it would be inappropriate for the company to be involved.
“With the Greenpeace ship already harassing Cairn off Greenland — a company which has an exemplary safety record – everyone realised it would be political madness to give the green light to BP,” one source said.
ont of breaking into new frontiers such as Russia and Angola, as well as
There has long been speculation since the Deepwater Horizon accident in April that BP could find itself persona non grata, particularly in sensitive environmental regions such as the Arctic.
BP has traditionally been at the forefront of breaking into new frontiers such as Russia and Angola, as well as drilling the deepest wells in the Gulf of Mexico, but the blowout and enormous environmental damage in the southern states has completely changed its external image and its own ambitions.
BP’s current interests around the Arctic region are centred on Alaska, but there has been extensive speculation that the company is in talks with rivals such as Apache to sell these off in a desperate bid to raise cash to pay for expected oil-spill liabilities of over $30bn.
Cairn’s announcement that it had struck gas this week reinforced the views of the US Geological Survey which said last year that it believed there could be 90bn barrels of oil and 50tn cubic metres of gas in the wider Arctic region.
Environmentalists are particularly nervous about plans to open up Arctic seas for exploration because the cold conditions would make a spill far more damaging. Last month, a report by US government scientists concluded that a quarter of the 4.9m barrels of oil estimated to have been spilled in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico had evaporated or dissolved. Oil spilled in the Arctic would be far harder to disperse and break down.
There will be another round of bidding for drilling off Greenland next year and the year after, but BP’s reverse this week shows that it will be difficult for the firm to secure future exploration licences in the area.
Despite the Deepwater Horizon disaster, major oil companies – BP included — still hope to begin drilling in the Arctic off the coast of North America soon. The US president, Barack Obama, opened up US waters there to exploration shortly before the Deepwater Horizon explosion but suspended the plans while investigations into the disaster took place. Last month, BP, Exxon Mobil and Imperial Oil formed a joint venture to explore for oil and gas in the Beaufort Sea in Canada’s Arctic.
The oil industry is already lobbying against new safety regulations requiring them to drill a relief well at the same time as they drill an exploration well in order to speedily plug any leak.
The cabbie has been here 25 years.
And we think we got road rage.
A mini-economy, with roadside merchants supplying food and drink, has appeared on the Jining-Beijing highway in China, part of the Tibet to Beijing expressway, where a 100-km tailback is now in its ninth day, making it a candidate for the world’s worst traffic jam. The slowdown is the result of road works and a traffic spike caused by heavy trucks on this main goods route into the city, which is under repair due to the damage caused by constant heavy goods traffic. The highway operated at a crawl during July, as well, and according to China’s government-owned Global Times, some motorists have while away the hours by playing cards.
Posted by :: Ellen Wallace on 24 August 2010 at 10:16 | permalink
We’ve come a long way.
The Hydroptère sailing team, famous in the world of daredevil water sports, reveals the prototype of a new vessel designed to be the fastest long-haul sailboat in the world. At an unveiling ceremony in a Vaud shipyard, Swiss sponsor companies, accompanied by legendary skipper Alain Thébault christen the futuristic looking yacht with champagne.
It seems nothing leaves the Franco-Swiss Hydroptère speed sailing team satisfied.
The Hydroptère project was created to build the fastest sailboats on the planet and the mission reached a milestone on Monday with the unveiling of the latest flying catamaran at a shipyard on Lake Geneva.
Born in the 1980s from the vision of Eric Tabarly, a renown French sailor who competed twice in the Whitbread Round The World Race, and Alain Thébault, a veteran yacht racer from Brittany, the project is based in Lausanne and Brittany, with financial support from Swiss companies.
At the christening ceremony at the Décision SA shipyard in Ecublens, close to the campus of Lausanne’s Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Thébault briefed journalists and sprayed champagne over a 35-foot prototype vessel.
Given the spitting rain and gloomy skies on the day, Thébault reminded a crowd of journalists, technicians and sponsors that the team will rely on better weather in order to test the prototype, which is due its first dunking on Lake Geneva in early October.
The project founder, who will also skipper the craft, explained that the new boat is built for speed with the aim of taking off at intervals and flying through the air.
Thébault calls his latest craft the “Hydroptère.ch” referred to informally within the team by the name’s suffix – “point-ch.”
Two wing-like foils – the only parts of the boat to touch the water – are joined by a light framework and cargo netting, powered only by the wind driving sails on a towering mast.
Engineers have innovated a new system of lateral rudders and a second rear tail unit that can be raised by a new system to diminish water drag.
More than 40 sensors monitor continuously and translate the boat’s movements into data for performance analysis.
The ‘point-ch’ is a smaller version of the 65-foot trimaran Hydroptère 1 – a multi-hulled boat with a main hull and two outrigger hulls – which Thébault used in September last year to set the absolute speed record for sailboats at over 51 knots (95 kilometres per hour).
“L’Hydroptère is an extraordinary human and technological adventure and l’Hydroptère.ch follows the same principle,” said Thébault, whose record-breaking sprints and oceanic voyages have made him a legend amongst sailing enthusiasts.
First on Lake Geneva, then in the Mediterranean and abroad, l’Hydroptère.ch should give answers to precise questions related to flight dynamics,” he said.
The team plans to use the prototype for research before building a larger craft, the Hydroptère Maxi, which the team will try to sail across the Pacific at the fastest average speed of any wind-powered boat.
It was Thébault’s childhood dream to create a boat that could fly. As a teenager he nurtured this concept with wooden models floated on canals.
Pictures shared with reporters at the ceremony show how the sailor developed the idea that the foils should act as de facto marine wings, providing a vertical thrust that lifts the boat’s hull from the water.
He realised a dream when in 2005 the 60-foot Hydroptère 1 crossed the English Channel faster than Blériot did by plane.
Now, the team is preparing to set new records and fend off challenges to its top-speed feat.
“For the world speed record you’ve got one UK team, Sailrocket . . . there is also a team in Australia trying to break it; you’ve also got kite surfers and wind surfers doing the same thing,” said mechanical engineer and team member Davy Moyon, speaking to Swisster at the ceremony.
For the 60-foot boat, “we changed everything that goes underwater,” to try to surpass 50 knots, said Moyon.
“For this boat, Point-ch, the purpose was a bit different, we are more into averaging better speed in as many conditions as possible.”
Building speed vessels looks to be an expensive business, although Thébault would not reveal the exact cost of his new prototype in response to questions at the ceremony.
L’Hydroptère is financed by corporate sponsors including the Geneva private banker and philanthropist, Thierry Lombard.
Lombard’s enthusiasm for the project stems in part from his own hobby of sailing.
“I used to be a sailor,” he told Swisster after he had finished snapping some personal pictures of the prototype and its crew.
“We have to try to move science a little bit ahead and have boats that fly instead of boats that are on the water,” said the banker, who was
formerly a sailing instructor on Lake Geneva.
Co-sponsor Audemars Piguet, the watchmaker from La Vallée Joux in the Jura mountains, sent its chief executive, Philippe Merk, to help spray Lanson’s champagne over the new boat.
And EPFL, based down the road from the shipyard in Ecublens, also plays a key supporting role as “official scientific advisor” to the team, conducting studies around materials, aero-hydrodynamic behaviour and computer vision systems.
The Hydroptère team has oth
er projects up its sleeve after the 35-footer has been tested.
Learning from new research conducted with the ‘point-ch’, the team will construct the ‘Maxi’ vessel to face the challenge of crossing the world’s largest ocean.